An Afternoon With Monet

In the writings of the Baha’i Faith we read: “I rejoice to hear that thou takest pains with thine art, for in this wonderful new age, art is worship. The more thou strivest to perfect it, the closer wilt thou come to God. What bestowal could be greater than this, that one’s art should be even as the act of worshipping the Lord? That is to say, when thy fingers grasp the paint brush, it is as if thou wert at prayer in the Temple.” (‘Abdu’l-Baha)

How often have you seen a contemporary soft-focused photograph that was designated as “impressionist” by the photographer or a magazine editor? So-called impressionist photography is a recurring theme in mass market magazines. Does blurring a photograph by using a diffusion or fog effects filter make it impressionist or is it just kitsch?
kitsch n. “Sentimentality or vulgar, often pretentious bad taste, especially in the arts.”

From Wikipedia comes a definition we can work with plus a bit of history. Renoir, Degas, and Monet did not use soft focus filters. Degas was an avid photographer.

The rise of the impressionist movement can be seen in part as a reaction by artists to the newly established medium of photography. The taking of fixed or still images challenged painters by providing a new medium with which to capture reality. Initially photography’s presence seemed to undermine the artist’s depiction of nature and their ability to mirror reality. Both portrait and landscape paintings were deemed somewhat deficient and lacking in truth as photography “produced lifelike images much more efficiently and reliably”. (wikipedia)

In spite of this, photography – actually inspired artists to pursue other means of artistic expression, and rather than competing with photography to emulate reality, artists focused “on the one thing they could inevitably do better than the photograph – by further developing into an art form its very subjectivity in the conception of the image, the very subjectivity that photography eliminated”. The Impressionists sought to express their perceptions of nature, rather than create exacting reflections or mirror images of the world. This allowed artists to subjectively depict what they saw with their “tacit imperatives of taste and conscience”. Photography encouraged painters to exploit aspects of the painting medium, like colour, which photography then lacked; “the Impressionists were the first to consciously offer a subjective alternative to the photograph”. (wikipedia)

The main influences on my art are Monet and Kandinsky. That may seem difficult to reconcile but it works for me. For an example see “Near the Edge of the Kingdom.” and “Flowers On The Sun.”

A sunrise by Claude Monet, 1872
Soleil Levant 1872

“My only desire is an intimate infusion with nature, and the only fate I wish is to have worked and lived in harmony with her laws.” – Claude Monet

A greatly enlarged detail from one of my photographs. This image was not manipulated in Photoshop in any way except to selectively modify large areas of color. This is the texture of the original 35 mm slide after some darkroom manipulations during development.

Greatly enlarged detail

Greatly enlarged detail

These images are part of a series I made called Afternoon With Monet In My Head. Like most of my images the sun was directly behind the birds which accounts for their luminosity.
Image (C)Copyright by Cary Enoch Reinstein

Image (C)Copyright by Cary Enoch Reinstein

Art distills sensations and embodies it with enhanced meaning. — Jacques Barzun

Here are a few quotations about art and artists from the Baha’i writings:

Save to, , , ,


  1. Kristine Amodeo · November 19, 2008

    Hi Cary ~

    Really enjoyed reading your views on impressionism – painting and photography.

    As a painter i use photos sometimes for reference, but paintings that are done plein air often have a vibrancy to them (provided the artist is successful in capturing the light and colours before they change) that is difficult to remember once back in the studio. Manipulating oil paints tends to be finite or easily under control, so it’s sometimes fun to stretch and do mixed media where you have no idea your eventual outcome. I would expect digital photography might be the same.

    My web site is in the listing above, but have newer photos of work, gallery & studio at the link below.

    With Warmest Baha’i Greetings from California,

  2. biber hapı · June 5, 2010

    very very good album

Comments are closed.